- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Some news out of Utah over the weekend with the announcement that backup running back Harvey Langi would put his career on hold and serve his LDS mission. He'll head to Tampa, Fla., later this month and will rejoin the team in 2014.
Langi was tied with Kelvin York as the immediate backup to standout running back John White IV, a junior college transfer who made an instant impact in the conference last season when he rushed for 1,519 yards and 15 touchdowns on a conference-leading 316 carries.
Langi, a highly-touted running back out of Bingham High School (South Jordan, Utah) had just 13 carries for 70 yards in his freshman campaign. However, he had a very impressive spring, had added some good weight and had caught the eye of head coach Kyle Whittingham.
"He's starting to play the way we envisioned he would when we recruited him out of high school," Whittingham told the Deseret News following Utah's spring practice sessions. "The light switch is starting to come on for Harvey."
Whittingham also told the Salt Lake Tribune that he felt Langi was Utah's "Most improved player" at the end of spring ball.
It is Utah's policy not to comment on players leaving for their mission.
The loss doesn't leave the Utes completely barren at the running back spot. White is still one of the marquee running backs in the conference and will carry the load in the ground game. Last year he was second in the Pac-12 and 11th nationally in rushing (116.8 yards per game) while earning second-team all-conference honors.
York, a mid-year JC transfer from Fullerton College, averaged 130.5 yards per game and 6.3 yards per rush in 2010. He and Langi are both over 220 pounds and were expected to be a nice complement to the 186-pound White. The Utes had also experimented with Langi and York playing some fullback and/or multi-running back sets. Though Langi will be gone, there's no reason that York won't be able to handle that load and provide quality reps to spell White.
Redshirt freshman Jarrell Oliver also had a strong spring session and has good size at 5-8, 210 pounds. With Langi's departure, York likely assumes the No. 2 spot by himself and Oliver jumps up to No. 3.